Modern Inspection and Verification: 3 Benefits The Lead Inspector of a Large DOT Thinks You Should Know

I started my transportation construction career 8 years ago. Back then they gave me a notebook, a pencil, a calculator, and a kick in the pants! I went out in the field and right away I was thinking there’s got to be a better way to do this than just writing all this stuff down and having to try to go through my notebooks later and “just figure stuff out.” I was finding I was spending a lot of time in my truck completing paperwork every day. Plus I had to take time out of each day to go back to the office and input my diary. It would take an extra hour-and-a-half of my day to do that admin work when I could have been in the field! I am so thankful that the technology has caught up to where we need it to be and that my team saw the value and invested in it. These are the 3 documented benefits my team has experienced since making the transition.

1) Visual Inspection

All of our training manuals say that the Visual Inspection is your most important form of inspection. Right? That all the testing, and sample testing, and things to do are just a backup of what I’m seeing in the field. In the past our diary was typed into a report with pages and pages of text. The engineer back at the office has to read every one of these. It takes a little while. It gets boring. He might miss things.

Using a photo-driven inspection and verification tool provides a visual dimension into what’s going on that is a real game-changer. Recently, we found a utility cable that needed to be moved right away in order to not hold up project progress. I took a picture of it and documented how far it was in using our technology. I then sent the observation directly to our District Utility Coordinator. That cable was moved pretty quickly. The cool thing about this is it’s also GPS tagged. Twenty years from now, if maintenance has to come in and do some work on this cable, they can go back to the GPS tag location, right where I was standing when I took that picture know exactly what’s under the ground. We feel like that’s going to be valuable information in the future.

2) Better Relationships with Contractors

Using a modern inspection and verification technology means I’m able to spend more time in the field with the contractor and I’m able to identify problems early and let that contractor know. They’re very appreciative of that because they can change it right then instead of waiting until it’s over and I say, “Hey, that’s wrong,” and they have to pull the whole thing out. It actually builds a better relationship with them.

There’s a lot of proof in a picture. One day out on the job, the contractor was getting ready to pour some concrete. It was very cold, and I said, “It’s not too cold right now, but I need to check the forecast.” I did, and then annotated and circled that area right onto my observation. It looked like it was going to drop below 35 degrees for three or four hours, which in our state is too cold for them to pour concrete. I had that documented on my photo-driven report. I showed the superintendent. I said, “Look, man. It’s too cold. You’ll see right here, it’s already documented and in the diary.” He canceled the pour. There were no questions, no arguing, “Come on, man. Can you help me?” It was done.

3) Improved Documentation

This is where it starts to get really cool. With the new way we’re documenting things, I’m able to go out and take pictures of the area, make some annotations on that picture to show exactly what went on that day. This is presented to the engineer as a timeline similar to a Facebook feed. Each observation I made is timestamped. As you go down the line through the day, you can see exactly what’s going on with that job – all your contractor equipment and your work items.

With this tool documentation has vastly changed for the better! I believe the main problem with the old way is that it’s non-searchable. So, if the boss man asks me two months down the road, “Hey, we’re looking at this and it looks like it might be a problem with the pay quantity here. Can you go back and find your notes on that?” I have to flip pages for an hour through the whole notebook trying to find that. Now I can easily search the project feed and provide him with visual proof of the quantity in question within seconds.

HeadLight is Photo-Driven Inspection and Verification Technology

HeadLight helps you save time, reduce errors and streamline projects through one central hub that unites all your team members for smarter collaboration and intelligent decision-making.

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